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My Money Story: Mariam Razzaghi


Tell us about yourself. What was your childhood like?

Mariam Razzaghi - a name I am extremely proud of. It’s representative of my amazingly rich culture, immigrant parents and the master of my fate. I was born in Costa Rica to a Persian father and Costa Rican Mother. I have vivid memories of my childhood. I grew up poor with rice and beans in our everyday "meal plan”. Yes, “mama made miracles every Thanksgiving” type of life. You know, the type of life where the passed on clothing from your siblings was the best part of Christmas. Luckily for me, my mother wanted more opportunity for us. At an early age, my single mother of 5 took all of her children to the USA. No English, no house, no work. Just family. I giggled just now. In writing this, I remember this Mazda van my mother had. The brakes couldn’t be changed because my mothers two jobs couldn’t afford it. So, when she picked us up from a beachy Redondo school, we’d ask her to meet us a block away so we wouldn’t be “embarrassed” by the screeching sound of her car. Through an immense culture shock, language barriers, and what seemed to be never-ending economic hardships, I made it! College educated, world traveled, career driven, and most importantly to date - financially literate!

What did your parents teach you about money/what was your relationship with money like when you were young?

My mother was born in Costa Rica. I have 4 siblings (5 of us in total). If you were to ask my mother if she’s invested - she’d laugh and ask - with what money? Growing up, my family and I didn’t have access to financial literacy. Our only knowledge was to “hustle”, a term my mom embodied by working two jobs. If there was money left over, my mother invested it back into her children - not an ETF. If there wasn’t food in the fridge that week, my mother would stock up on credit card debt to feed us. This is the unfortunate, but true reality of many low-income underprivileged minorities. They don’t know about the positive impact that financial literacy could have on their future. But also, they’ don’t have access to wealth management resources that most do. So, very early on I said to myself “it ends with me.” And so I started getting money smart and making money moves by 1) Paying off debt, 2) Putting money away in 401k/Roths 3) Investing 4) Saving

How did you start your early career?

After attending an inspirational event, South Bay Women’s Conference in Redondo Beach, I was introduced to the Marketing Director of a shopping center nearby. I started off as an intern in the Commercial Real Estate industry and proudly moved on up to Marketing Manager/Director. My goal as the leader of the Marketing department was to drive sales and traffic while also maintaining a close relationship with our loyal guests. PS. Yes, malls have a team full of incredibly talented individuals doing the operational work and it’s so much fun!

What do you do in your career today?

After 6 years, I decided to take a one-year “sabbatical”. I rigorously worked through all of high school and college and decided to loosen up my “risk adversity” mentality and go off and travel by myself. I went to 10 countries in Europe, Mexico, Costa Rica, and even had the chance to explore part of the East Coast. Doing a lot of introspecting and growth!
What is your best piece of advice for someone early in their career?
If your company offers it, take advantage of every single penny they match in your 401k. It’s free money!

What is something people don’t know about you (outside of your work)?

I am QUEING (queen + king) auntie! I have (soon to be) five nieces + nephews who are my world. I start of each day with the intention to lead by example. I aspire to be a role model and mentor to each of them. I make conscious efforts to provide them with as much knowledge/information on everything I know. More importantly, because of them, I strive to know more, learn more, be more!

What is your relationship with money like today?

Well, I’ve been able to take a one year sabbatical - so I can say our relationship is “tight”! I continue to try and be as money smart as possible by: 1) paying off my highest interest debt, 2) spending less, 3) make long-term “thoughtless" investment choices
(For those who invest) What are you currently investing in?
401K, ETF’s (vanguards to be specific)

What is your biggest money challenge?

I just cringed with guilt. I still fall into the brilliant marketing ploys. I’m that shopper who spends the $100 to get free shipping, gets to their $75 price price-point to get $20 off, falls into the BOGO 50% and end up with two of the same products in different colors.

What is your biggest money win?

  1. Having put money into my investments and seeing it grow baby grow
  2. Having enough savings to take a sabbatical
  3. Negotiating a salary that allows me to help my mother when she needs it

(For those who invest) What market trends or investments are you most excited about?

New and upcoming IPO’s mainly in the tech industry.

What is your biggest savings hack?

I’m so “extra" about this: I always try to keep my savings at a nice round number. So if I have $150, I’ll do whatever it takes to get it to $200. It’s a fun game and probably the only game that results in more money.

Who would you like to most meet or chat with?

There’s no specific name that pops to mind except: ALL women with families + a current or past career + financially stable. I’d love to pick their brain.

What is your favorite or most interesting piece over the past few months (podcasts, books, articles)?

Planet Money podcasts are always fun and thought-provoking. Most recently I listened to #688: Brilliant vs. Boring. Where the publisher speaks on John Bogle who died earlier this year! He’s the man who created the index fund and set off a million dollar bet between Warren Buffet and some of the smartest economists. Can you guess who won?

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?

The Triple D’s: Debt comes first, Diversification is key, Don’t put all your “eggs" in one basket

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